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How Much Can You Get For Your Home?

Aug 17, 2007
One of the most critical decisions when putting your home up for sale is the asking price. Choosing the right price is absolutely critical. If your price is not in line with the current market you can lose out big time. Either potential buyers will not respond because the price is too high or you will lose money if the price is too low.

If you use a real estate agent, they will know how to compare your property to other properties in your town and come up with a fair price, but if you are selling your house yourself, how do you go about figuring out the best asking price?

This can take a bit of legwork, but spending the extra time on it can actually put more money in your pocket so it is well worth the time invested. First off, you need to find out what similar homes are selling for in your area. Your area is crucial - a similar home in another area of town is not consequential to your pricing. Look in the paper and spot for sale signs on the streets in your immediate area.

Now you might think you can call up a local real estate agent and just get a free estimate, right? Not only is this not fair to expect them to do the work to provide you with the information when you don't plan to work with them, but you will not know if they are new and their pricing unrealistic or if they're giving you an inflated price to get your business. Not that all agents would do that, but it is safer to work this out yourself if you are not planning on working with an agent. After all, you wouldn't expect to do your job for free for a stranger would you?

One pitfall in trying to gauge a fair asking price is that your home has special meaning to you. It's hard to be unbiased and you may think your house is "better" than similar houses in the area because of all the ties you have to it. Children may have grown up in the home, marriages and anniversaries have been celebrated. Your dog may be buried in the backyard. This is, unfortunately, not a selling point for buyers. Try to be objective and settle on an asking price without figuring emotion into the equation.

To get a good look see at the other homes in your area for sale, go to a few open houses in your area. Visit the homes on the market that are similar in age, size and style to yours. Only take the information that is available when you are planning to sell since markets can change drastically from season to season. Take not of how yours compares but be honest with yourself.

Some things that affect value include the size of the yard, fencing, updated kitchen, bedroom sizes, type and monthly cost of heating (especially in climates with cold whether), if it needs a paint job (inside or out), distance to schools or shopping and if the financing is being assisted.
If you are selling a condominium or town house you can also consider how the view, amenities, strata fees and regulations compare to yours.

To find out if the price they are asking is fair, find out how long the house has been on the market. A home that is not moving in a strong market may be an indication that the asking price is too much. In that case, you don't want to use this home as a comparison to yours, unless you want your house to languish on the market too.

You'll want to find several homes to compare to yours. Start with their pricing and add or subtract depending on if you are missing a feature or have a feature they don't. By working with several examples you should get a feel for right price. Just make sure you don't pick a price that is too high - buyers will be scared off if they see the house has been on the market for a long time.

When picking the price, you want to use psychology to your advantage. Much like Wal-Mart prices items at $9.99 or $14.99 you want to use the same tactic. IF you want your house to sell for $300,000 you'd be better to ask $299,900. Even though we all know this is just a gimmick, it really does work!

Keep in mind that your potential buyers already have a price range in mind. It's better to be just below the $300,000 mark so you can take advantage of those looking in the $250,000 to $299,000 range rather than limiting it to those looking in the $300,000 to $350,000 range. You will still get the interest of buyers looking in the higher price range as people are always looking for a deal.
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for Moving and More where you can learn more about selling your house.
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